A trip through Quebec Province.
The first of October we were up at about 8.30 and we had breakfast. For once at the start of a holiday we were not away straight after breakfast as we were getting the 11.05 train to Schiphol. We walked to the station and it was there that we heard that there was a signal failure, which was resulting in no trains to Amsterdam and Schiphol. Instead we had to get the bus to Rotterdam and from there at last the (very busy) train to the airport. The trains were very busy and Schiphol was also a mad house. When we checked in we heard that the flight was overbooked so we could not get seat numbers. Finally at the gate they asked for volunteers to go with the KLM via Detroit, it meant arriving 5 hours later in Montreal. They were offering fl.625 per person for the volunteers. After thinking about it for a while we decided to volunteer. While we were waiting for our new tickets they discovered checked in passengers without the correct travel documents! So at the very last moment we were able to get onto the planned flight. We missed out on the 1250 guilders though. We arrived at 18.10 in Montreal and we were very quickly through customs and immigration. We got a taxi to the hotel, which was in Downtown Montreal. Then after settling in (which never takes us very long) we went out for a walk to get a bit of fresh air and we had a coffee before returning to the hotel for a shower and bed.
"Parc du Bic"
Then it was on to Parc du Bic where we walked to one of the viewpoints – a very steep climb over nearly 2 kilometres but very well worth the trouble. Our travel guide hardly mentions Park du Bic but it is worthwhile stopping. We also stopped at Park du Bic harbour, which is very picturesque before going on into Rimouski for the night. Dinner and a well earned soak in the bathtub and bed.
The harbour at Parc Bic.
"Further to New Richmond"
Thursday 5 Oct: I was awake just after 6.30!! but didn’t get up until 7 We were going across country today to New Richmond. We stopped at Le Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer to see the waterfall and to walk across the highest suspension bridge in Quebec. It’s a wooden bridge and although it doesn’t shake much it really does crack and creak. To complete the fun experience you have to cross it twice (there is no other way back to the car park) and the depth to the bottom of the canyon is 300 metres. I hate heights and suspension bridges!!! So crossing it twice was a real overwinning for me.
No retouching with the computer here - the autumn colours really were this bright, they clashed terribly with my coat.
From there we travelled further, stopping to look at two covered bridges and the Parc Miquasha. There we saw an interesting film about all the fossils found along that part of the coast. We got to New Richmond and our hotel just after 5 p.m. where we had a warm drink and then dinner. We had some difficulty in finding the hotel but really it was our fault as we took a side road into the centre of the town, if we had kept on the main road we would have come across the hotel easily. The route is planned and the hotels are booked so that you just need to drive and look at the scenery and not think. It’s when you start to think that you run into problems. After dinner we went out and got the things for our next days picnic lunch, we like travelling and taking our meals like this because it means that we can stop at any time or view point we like for a meal or a drink. Today the weather had been beautiful with sun although it had been colder. The colours of the trees were lovely.
Friday 6 th: We were up just after 7 and away just after 8 a.m. We took the coastal route to Percé; it’s a lovely winding road. We saw some beautiful and funny painted water hydrants at Paspebiac. It was very cloudy today but at least it did not rain like the forecasts had predicted. We arrived in our lovely hotel at lunchtime and checked in. We were there for two nights and our room looked out over the nature reserve Parc Quebecois de l íle Bonaventura – et – du - Rocher Perce. We had lunch in the hotel room because it was very cold and then went down to the harbour for a trip to the reserve. The boat trip around the island took about an hour and we saw Humpback whales, porpoises, grey seals and thousands of birds. There are 40,000 breeding pairs of Gannets on the island plus other birds making up 100,000 birds on the reserve. We stayed on the island for two and a half hours and while we were there we saw and (especially lovely and very touching) heard more Humpback whales. By five o’clock it was time to get the boat back to the mainland for the night and a very welcome warming bath and then dinner. A warm cup of tea was very welcome – always is for the English!
the Nature Reserve Parc Quebecois de l íle Bonaventura – et – du - Rocher Perce.
Sat 7th Oct: We woke up to rain, wind and grey, grey skies! We had breakfast and then went down to the pier The sea was very rough so there were no boats, in fact there were hardily any people about. We decided to visit the information centre of the park we had visited yesterday. It was very small and all the information was in French so we were soon finished with that. There was a short walk in the lovely land surrounding the centre but with the rain pelting down we could not do that. So with nearly a whole day to pass we decided to drive along the coast to Gaspé even though we were planned to go that way tomorrow on route to Forillon National Park. As usual we did not fancy a day in the hotel doing nothing except waiting for the weather to change – “restful holidays” are not something we understand we have to be out doing and seeing things.
Monday 2nd: I slept very well but we were awake about 7 a.m. and out on the streets by 8 o’clock to explore old Montreal. All the flags were at half-mast and we heard later that Pierre Trudeau had died the Thursday before. He was brought from Ottawa to Montreal by train today for his funereal. We had lunch before climbing Mont Royal. It was really lovely weather with temperatures around the 25o .The views from Mont Royal are wonderful, more than making up for the long hard climb up the steps. We were up and checked out of the hotel just after 8 o’clock. We walked the short distance to the Avis car rental office to pick up our hire car. Getting the car cost some time because the girl on the desk was looking for “The Netherlands” because she asked Koos “where are you from?” and the voucher with our name on it was with the country given as “Holland”. At last she asked if The Netherlands and Holland was the same place and that solved the problem of the missing car. The traffic was very heavy going out of Montreal but the directions we were given were very good.
"Thru' Forillon and along the coast"
"Parc de la Gaspesie"
Monday: We woke up to SUN and it wasn’t as cold either. We took the coastal route to Ste - Anne – des – Monts for our next nights stop – a distance of 242 kilometres. The autumn colours were absolutely lovely in the sunshine today. We saw the start of the Appalachian Trail. There was a good dusting of snow on the Chic Choc mountains (what a lovely name that is). Sainte – Anne – des Monts nestles in the hollow of a cove and is at the entrance of the Northern Gaspésie region. Our hotel for the next two nights “Gite du Mont Albert” was 39 kilometres from the city and right in the Park. The Gite is actually a hotel and cabins but we were in the main part of the hotel. That is probably warmer at this time of year. We checked in and then went for a walk through the woods to a lovely viewpoint of the Mont Albert with its sugaring of snow. There were lots of people in the hotel, which is ideally situated for walkers and also for winter sports. It slowly clouded over and by 4 p.m. it was quite chilly and getting dark. We decided to walk the short distance from the hotel to the visitors centre; we arrived there to be told they were just shutting. “Oh then we will have to come back tomorrow” said Koos, “No we are shutting until next June” was the reply.
Tuesday 10th: The Parc de la Gaspésie is located in the heart of the Gaspé peninsula between the Saint Lawrence and the Baie – des –Chaleurs and covers 802 km2. It is at the far end of the Appalachian Chain and some summits in the Chic Choc and McGerrigle Mountains reach more than 1,000 metres. Mont Jacques Cartier is 1,268 and Mont Albert is 1,154 metres. The lower valleys have the highest concentrations of Moose in Quebec and there are caribou high up in the mountains. We woke up to rain, rain, rain and low hanging mist. In the hotels guide to the area it states and I quote “ The Parc du Gaspésie becomes rainy and foggy many days of the year. This brings even more charm to this beautiful region” I must say that is very true, I just wished then that the rain and fog had added their charm to the area exactly on the day we were there and had planned on doing some walking. We went for a drive after breakfast but there is only the one-asphalted road through the parkland the rest of the paths are of gravel – not advisable in heavy rain and fog. So we decided to drive bad to Ste Anne for coffee in what was fast becoming our favourite coffee stop Tim Horton’s and do a bit of shopping (we had planned that for the next day) Returning to the hotel afterwards we saw a moose very close by, he was crossing the road but unfortunately he saw us before my camera was ready and darted into the woods. The weather was slowly clearing up by this time so after lunch we went for a walk. We were heading towards Lac D’aible but after about 2 kilometres through thick woodland it was getting very muddy so we turned back before we reached the lake. By that time the light was also slowly fading and the fog once again adding its charm to the region. Still the little we walked was part of the mighty Appalachian Trail.
"Back to Riviere du Loup"
Wednesday: We woke up to snow this morning; this trip ready does have everything packed into it. We went back to Ste – Anne where we got a coffee to go at Tim Horton’s and then we headed towards Riviere du Loup. We took the coastal route again the 132, Koos likes this roads because it is the same number as one of his favourite pieces of music by Beethoven. Mind you the music is probably a lot older than the road! We passed through Mont Joli where we had lunch and Rimouski where we had a look in the new shopping mall. There was a lot of snow at Parc du Bic, what a difference with when we were there a week ago. At Riviere du Loup we checked the ferry times for the next day before checking into our hotel. There are only three ferries for the crossing to St. Simeon at this time of the year –8 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 4 o’clock so we had an early start the next day. Thank goodness we had food with us for our evening meal as the restaurant in the hotel was closed (don’t know if that was for the evening or for the season though).
"Across to St. Simeon"
The view from Parc Mont Royal
Thursday: We were up early today because we had to get the 8 o’clock ferry to St Simeon on the over side of the St Lawrence. It was a cold but sunny day for the crossing, which takes about 90 minutes. We then drove from St. Simeon to Baie St. Catherine where we took a three-hour whale-watching trip. That was really marvellous, we saw Minke, Fin whale, porpoise, beluga and seals. It was cold on the river but watching the whales you forgot the cold. After the trip we drove to Tadoussac for the night that meant another ferry trip. This time it was across the Sarguenay fjord.
We checked into our hotel and had lunch. Then we went out for a walk around the headland, which was lovely. We were tired this evening probably the effects of an early start and all day in the fresh air.
Tiny little plants along the coast line ... beautiful and you can so easily miss them.
Friday the 13th: We slept a little later today and left Tadoussac just after 9 o’clock. We headed north towards Chicoutimi and then through the Laurentian Mountains. Our stop for the night was Quebec but the route we took was left up to us. We decided to take the mountain road and leave the coast for a while. We had hoped by doing that we would see some lovely autumn colours in the mountains but they were passed their best.
We arrived in Quebec about 2.30 and parked the car in the lot under the hotel ($12 per day). So we walked from the hotel to Old Quebec, which took we about 20 minutes. The old part of the city is really lovely and we were very lucky with the weather. We had dinner in Old Quebec before returning to the hotel for the night.
A lovely wall painting showing Quebec through the ages.
"On to Montmagny"
Once we got onto the 20 east and over the Pont Champlain the traffic was very light. The autumn colours were lovely and we were very soon in a very pretty apple growing area of the province and we bought apples – Spartans – and they were delicious. We stopped Levis for the view over the St. Lawrence to Quebec City. Unfortunately the weather we not too good by that time and it was misty.
Saturday 14th: Our room was on the 14th floor but that did not mean that we did not hear the traffic that when on all night. We awoke about 8 o’clock to heavy grey skies, it seems that in each place we stay two days that the second day is always awful weather! We went to Parc de la Chute Monmorency. The waterfall there is 30 metres higher than the Niagara Falls. Mind you it misses the sheer volume of water that goes over the falls at Niagara. We took the cable car to the top of the falls. Then we crossed the suspension bridge over the falls and took the 487 panoramic steps back down to the car park. I think that is how everyone did it; I certainly did not see anyone climbing the stairs.
Sunday 15th: We woke up early to bright blue skies and it was not really cold either. We put everything into the car and checked out of the hotel. We left the car in the car park though and headed back to Old Quebec again. There, fed and refreshed by a cup of coffee, we headed towards the Citadel. There was a climb of 310 steps from the Dufferin promenade to the Citadel. The colours of the trees and the views over the St. Lawrence made the climb well worthwhile though. We walked back to the hotel and got the car. Then it was onto route 40 towards Montreal and then on to Ottawa – about 500 kilometres.
"On to Ottawa"
We stopped at the tourist information centre just over the border in Ontario and although the office was closed it was worth the stop. Trees surround the office and these were beautiful in the full glory of the autumn colours, so we took some photos before moving on to Ottawa for the night. Our hotel was in Downtown not far from the parliament buildings. After checking in we had a walk around the market square and a look around the centre before dinner. Our room key didn’t fit room 1417 despite trying and trying – not really surprising though as our room was 1412!
Monday 16th: We woke up to partly cloudy skies but it was not cold. We had a cup of tea and then leaving our things in the room, we headed towards the Parliament Buildings. We headed out of Ottawa, which was not easy because of the heavy traffic and the bad map we had. We headed out on the 148 west, which took us along a river, which is the border between Quebec and Ontario. Once again we were in French speaking Quebec as far as Shawville where we crossed into Ontario again. Then it was onto the Algonquin National Park, onto it and through it to Huntsville and Blue Water Acres out hotel for the next two nights. Our accommodation for the next two nights was a cabin. The park was almost empty the first night we were there and once again we were lucky that we had food with us as the restaurant in the park was closed. The autumn colours we had seen on entering the province were almost gone here; there were a lot of bare trees in Algonquin.
well thats a job I could do... tea taster!
Pumpkins for sale.
Tuesday: We slept later today, must have been very tired, as I just could not open my eyes this morning. It was strange to hear no noise at all the whole nightlong….. except for the dripping of the bathroom tap that is! It was 9.45 before we headed to Huntsville to get things for our picnic lunch. We also go a coffee to go from Tim Horton’s and then headed back to the Algonquin Park for the day. We finished our coffee and had a lovely butter walnut cake we had treated ourselves to before going on our first walk. We took the Hardwood Lookout Trail, which was only 800 metres long but serves as an introduction to the typical Algonquin hardwood forest. It was a bit of a climb (helped work off some butter walnut calories) and finishes with a beautiful view of Smoke Lake and the surrounding hills. Then we moved on to the Smoke Lake and a lovely picnic area for our lunch. The picnic bench was absolutely on the edge of the water. The only minus point to this beautiful area was that I needed the toilet before lunch and the only toilets were of course just holes in the ground. It sure causes a decrease in your appetite! We then moved on to the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. That is a 1,5 kilometre walk through the bogs and forest with the sections through the bog made on boardwalks. It gives a very good close up view of typical northern spruce bogs and in parts a very good smell of them as well!
Then we turned back towards Huntsville but still in the park we walked the Lookout Trail of 1,9 kilometres which is steep and rugged but rewards you with a magnificent view of several hundred square kilometres of the Algonquin Park. We went on the Whiskey Rapids where we did the 2-kilometre walk. There was a bus full of Japanese tourists in the park this evening. No moose today but lots and lots of Chipmunks. The Algonquin Park was created in 1893 and by that time most of the parks big pine trees had been cut down and fires fuelled by pine slash had ravaged large areas. Therefore Algonquin was not established to preserve part of the primitive environment, which had been already significantly altered but to make a wildlife sanctuary. It also protects the headwaters of the five major rivers that flow from the park by excluding agriculture in the area.
Wednesday 18th: We woke up to bright blue skies. We both had an “ End of Holiday” feeling, and that was strange because we had another 10 days to go. It’s only the Canada part of the holiday that was finished (we were going onto Florida tomorrow). Then we took some last photos of the autumn colours and headed off towards Toronto – a distance of 240 kilometres. It was very busy when we got to the outskirts of Toronto with its more than 2 million inhabitants and to make things worse we had to return the car at Yonge street in the downtown area of the city and not at the airport. Still we managed it but I must say picking up and returning cars at airports is easier. We walked from the Avis office to our hotel – that was a couple of blocks away. Then after checking in we were once again quickly out on the streets for our final afternoon in Canada. We had a late lunch – a lovely clam chowder. Then we wandered around the centre, saw the harbour and the hotel we had stayed in six years ago. We did not go into the C.N. tower this time. We had a very pleasant lazy afternoon because we had to be up very early the next day for our flight to Orlando. We went to bed early – setting the alarm clock for 3.30 a.m.
Thursday 19th: We were up at 3.25 after not sleeping very well. We were away to the airport by taxi at 3.40 for our 6.20 flight to Orlando. It was a taxi ride of about 40 minutes – cost 45 dollars. We went to check in and the girl at the desk asked a workmate if she could check us in so early. I thought that was a bit strange as it was only two hours before the flight. We got our boarding passes and went through security. Then I looked at the passes again and saw the departure time of 15.25. Koos left me with the luggage and went back to the desk to check. The 6.20 flight had not flown for months; there was only the afternoon flight. So there we were a whole day wasted – sitting at an airport. Not only that but the girl checking us in had given us seats on the back row of the plane even though we must have been the first to check in for that flight. Luckily Koos was able to change that when he went back to check things for the second time because there was absolutely no flight to Orlando on the departure board. Last year when we book to go to Churchill with the same company we were not in the computer for the return flights to Amsterdam and now this! I slept for a while and Koos listened to all the music he had brought with him for the trip, drank coffee and at a reasonable time phoned our friends in South Carolina to say we would be later than planned by them. Finally at 15.25 we left for Orlando a two and a half hour flight. We had to circle Orlando International Airport for a while before we were able to land. It was very very busy at the airport and it took us more than 2 hours to get to the car hire office and then there was a long line of people collecting cars. We headed north on the I 95 and stopped at the first hotel we saw on it at about 8.40 for the night. Well it had been a long long day for us. Had dinner and a shower and hit our beds and went out like lights.
The view over the river towards Quebec.
We stopped at Montmagny for the night. As we turned into the hotel drive we ended up behind a van with a dead moose on its bonnet. Not only was it not a pleasant sight but it was a bit smelly too.
Wed 4th:It was very cold this morning but it soon warmed up and was sunny – really beautiful weather. We headed out on the 132 instead of the highway and it followed the St. Lawrence to Riviere du Loup. We went for a walk there along the side river and a dam. We had our picnic lunch by the river before moving on again. We headed towards Trois Pistoles where there is a lovely white church surrounded (when we were there) by autumn coloured trees.
The view over the river at Montmagny on a very cold morning.